Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Cyprus’ ghost town Maraş on ITV tonight


A current affairs programme on ITV will feature a story on Maraş (Varosha) – a popular seaside resort in Mağusa on Cyprus’s east coast, which has been deserted since the 1974 War in Cyprus. Veteran newscaster Alastair Stewart visits the abandoned town for On Assignment, which airs tonight at 10.40pm on ITV1.

ITV describe their report about Maraş as, “a Cypriot seaside resort abandoned in 1974 when Turkish military intervention resulted in the division of the island - a poignant reminder of the pain of the Cypriot partition.”
Maraş in Cyprus. Map illustration by BBC
The town had been Cyprus’ main tourism destination, popular with celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Raquel Welch, and Brigitte Bardot. Since the summer of 1974, when the town’s mainly Greek Cypriot residents moved south following the end of the Cyprus Conflict, Maraş has been under the control of the Turkish army.

For four decades, the Turkish Cypriot side has locked off access to the town, waiting for a comprehensive settlement with Greek Cypriots, after which the town was to be returned to its former owners. The lack of a political solution has meant that the uninhabited town remains “eerily untouched” and in a poor state of decay.

For his Cyprus assignment, Alastair Stewart meets refugees on both sides of the divide. They include some who are happy with the status quo, along with others working to recreate a sustainable future for both Greek and Turkish Cypriots in the city of Famagusta.

The Maraş report is one of a number of factual stories that will be covered on tonight’s On Assignment. The weekly TV programme is fronted by Rageh Omaar, who heads ITV News’ award-winning team of specialist journalists that deliver in-depth reports from around the world on unique stories. 

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